Charlene Duline

© Copyright 2020 by Charlene Duline

Photo of a mouse.

When I lived on the sixth floor of a condominium in Washington, DC, I arrived home one evening, walked into my bedroom, opened the closet door and outran a mouse. I didnít jump and scream because I am not afraid of mice, but I had no intention of living with one. I called the desk for a maintenance man to come up and get this mouse. He had no hope of finding the mouse, and instead he came up with glue traps and put them in my closets and the kitchen.

A few days later I was in the kitchen preparing dinner. I had turned on the oven and within a few minutes I felt a presence. Mouse had come out from underneath the range and stood there glaring at me. When I looked down and saw him, I almost burst out laughing. The range had gotten hot and Mouse clearly was unhappy with me. His silence was eloquent. He had an indignant stance, and all but shouted about the indignity that had befallen him. My amusement quickly turned to anger, and I yelled at Mouse. He did the unmanly, but no doubt, mousely thing, and ran out of the kitchen, down the hallway and right into my bedroom! I imagined him and his extended family living behind the range. Later the maintenance man returned to pull out the range and stuffed steel wool around the hole that connected the range to the gas pipe. We didnít find any mice underneath the range.

On a cold, dreary Thanksgiving morning I got up feeling blessed, and walked into the living room. Mouse had used the back of my white sofa as his indoor privy. He had also run along the top of my white drapes and left more presents. I spent the rest of the morning cleaning the sofa and drapes, and oh yes, cursing. I had begun to sort of mellow and to wonder if we could co-exist, but now I knew there could be no peaceable kingdom - Mouse had to go.

One of my brothers came over later that day. As we sat chatting in the living room, out of the corner of my eye, I saw Mouse standing in the kitchen doorway looking at us. I said softly, ďMichael, look. Itís Mouse.Ē Michael got up from his chair to look. Mouse didnít move. He apparently wanted an introduction to Michael. The three of us gazed at each other for several minutes. Mouse stood there fearlessly as if he had every right to be there and to know who the visitor was. When he realized that no introductions were coming, he ran back under the range. This was indeed a different kind of mouse.

I alternated between despair and euphoria, and rage and passivity. Friends thought my situation was hilarious. They said Mouse felt an aura of love for animals in my home. I said I had little patience for animals not potty trained and who used my white sofa and white drapes as their own little privy. Mouse had to go!

The building manager brought in an exterminator who said mice could get under anything because they have no bones in their bodies. He found a tiny space under my door that allowed Mouse to get in. I wondered how Mouse made his way to the sixth floor. The exterminator explained that there was a lot of building going on in the neighborhood which attracted mice, and he said they were also coming inside from the cold. The exterminator placed little balls of something poisonous to mice but harmless to humans around the apartment. I did not see or hear Mouse during that week.

When the exterminator returned, he checked the bait and said, ďSome of it has been eaten. A mouse is dying somewhere. Letís hope it is not in a wall.Ē I felt a twinge of remorse. I never saw or heard Mouse again.

I have thought about Mouse over the years. It must have been a nice change for him to encounter a human who was not terrified of him. Mouse seemed to be a gentle creature who wanted only to nestle in and nibble on gift paper in the linen closet, or nap in my clothes closet, and keep warm underneath the kitchen range. Of course, Mouse had to eat too, and he and I would have fallen out when he began nibbling on my food items in the cabinets. Still, there was something about the little rascal. I had visions of a nest of mice somewhere in my apartment, and in my mindís eye I could see them taking over my apartment and throwing me out when I became too worrisome!

I was sort of disappointed that Mouse and I never became better acquainted. I often wonder if he could have become domesticated or would he have remained or reverted to being the disgusting, nibbling-on-everything vermin that people think mice are. How disappointed he must have been when he realized, as he writhed in agony, that this human was like all the other humans who only wanted him dead.

Iím sorry, Mouse.

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